Barbados National Youth Parliament (BNYP) Prime Minister Roshanna Trim presented President of the Senate Kerryann Ifill with a report from the BNYP’s last two debates this morning.
The debates, which were held in the Senate late last year, covered the topics of the restructuring of Barbados as well as access to health care for teens.
In the previous debate on restructuring and refocusing, BNYP Independent Member called on authorities to review the voting age and improve youth participation in politics.
O’Neal said that as its stands in Barbados, the youth are not truly included in the politics and political decisions made by government. He demanded that government consider lowering the voting age from 18 to 16.
“Bringing the voting age to 16 would make Barbados a more inclusive society,” O’Neal contended, adding that it would be timely given the aging demographic of the electorate, and it would “potentially increase voter turnout and make sure that the youth issues are treated equability”.
By doing so, he said, the government would fulfill its mandate to young people as stated in the National Youth Policy – to make sure that young people’s issues are heard and they are not being seriously disadvantaged.
The debate on health centred on teens being able to access care without parental consent.
According to Leader of Opposition Business Krystal Hoyte, “across the Eastern Caribbean, we have clear gray areas in a legislation that demands to be black and white”.
“In St Lucia and here in Barbados, our young people can legally consent to and engage in sexual activity but they cannot access any form of health care without a parent. Realistically, in our society many young people today do not feel comfortable addressing the topic of sex with their parents or guardians. This therefore means that 16 and 17-year-olds are having sex and the only form of protection they can obtain are condoms,” she said. “This gray area in the legislation, this loophole places sexually active youth at risk.”
She acknowledged that while there has been progress in addressing the sexual and reproductive health needs of adolescents in Barbados, the youth continue to face a number of vulnerabilities and challenges which adversely affect the fulfillment of their well-being and human rights.
Hoyte said this is a result of socio-cultural and legal barriers that affect investments in, and limit young people’s access to, critical services and information, including inclusive, gender-responsive, youth-friendly Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) services and comprehensive, age-appropriate SRH education within schools.
Senator Infill thanked the young Parliamentarians for all their hard work and urged them to continue in that vein.